Dialogue, not clash of civilizations, is what the world needs
Xu Qinduo
Editor's note: Xu Qinduo is the former chief correspondent of China Radio International to Washington, D.C., and a senior fellow of the Pangoal Institution. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily those of CGTN.
A senior U.S. official has recently portrayed the competition between China, a rising power, and her country, a status quo power, as a "fight with a really different civilization and a different ideology."
Kiron Skinner, the U.S. State Department director of policy planning, went further to point out that, for the first time, the U.S. is facing a great power competitor that is not Caucasian.
Her remarks attracted criticism for presenting the China-U.S. conflicts – either in trade, technology or geopolitical competition – as something unavoidable. Skinner's reference of China being non-Caucasian smacks of racial discrimination, in spite of the irony that she's an African American.
The U.S. official may have been enlightened if she had bothered to pause and think about other cultures, or civilizations, and how they handle differences.
For that matter, Asia could be a good example for its richness in the variety of civilizations and their philosophy in appreciating the beauty in other cultures and the practice of learning from each other. 
China shared tea, gunpowder, printing, paper making, etc, with the rest of the world. It also took in Buddhism from India. Arabic numerals were introduced to China. As a matter of act, you would discover in today's China not only socialism, but also market economy and traditional Chinese culture. Young people have gained extensive understanding of other cultures through movies and TV dramas from a great number of countries including India, Japan, South Korea, the U.S., U.K., Italy, Thailand, Singapore and so on.
Clash of civilizations? As said by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations on Wednesday, "the thinking that one's own race and civilization is superior, and the inclination to remold or replace other civilizations is just stupid. To act them out will only bring catastrophic consequences."
Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, May 15, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, May 15, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Mr. Xi's statement was met with resounding applause in the conference hall. Understandably so. The U.S., in the wake of 9/11 terror attack, launched an “endless war” against Muslim countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, and later on, Libya and Syria.
The outcome has been horrible with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed, injured or displaced and Libya becoming a lawless land of slave trading. Those wars were easily framed as "religious wars," as one chaplain reportedly told some U.S. troops in Afghanistan that their job was to "hunt people for Jesus."
Xi's denunciation of the "clash of civilizations" idea was echoed by other leaders. Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos similarly emphasized that it was a "great mistake" to drum up the idea of a clash of civilizations. He noted that "real civilizations by their own nature are not clashing, real civilizations open a dialogue among themselves."
Singaporean President Halimah Yacob, presented her country as a fine example of harmonious society for Chinese, Indian and Malays. In Singapore, one can find a temple, church and mosque along the same street.
Behind the outstanding achievement are efforts to bring people together by treating them equally, such as setting up racially integrated schools and housing estates rather than segregation. Madam Halimah noted "Singapore's diversity is its strength."
In a similar vein, the world would also benefit from the diversity of civilizations, as long as, in President Xi's words, we "respect each other as equals, and say no to hubris and prejudice."
Following the principle of "America First," Washington has launched trade wars with everybody else, including Canada, the European Union, China, India, Japan, etc.
The U.S. has been a destabilizing factor in the Persian Gulf region by withdrawing from the Iranian nuclear deal and re-introducing sanctions on Tehran. And in Venezuela, it continues to instigate a regime change after a failed military coup.
Most recently, the Arctic Council has failed to issue a final declaration due to the U.S. refusing to mention climate change, which is a growing threat to mankind.
Policies like this have little to do with the clash of civilizations. It's more about a selfish giant isolating itself from the rest of the world.
Dialogue with other civilizations would be the wise way forward to resolve existing problems. Effective dialogue requires the abandonment of the sense of superiority and treating others with equality and respect.
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